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How to Select Effective Acupuncture Points for Disease Healing

Acupuncture, acupressure, and moxibustion are useful healing methods in traditional Chinese medicine. When using these methods for disease treatment, certain acupuncture points, or “acupoints” should be selected. Correct selection of acupuncture points is essential for achieving good efficacy of the treatment. A group of acupuncture points chosen for a treatment is called an acupuncture or moxibustion prescription.

To achieve good effects for disease treatment, acupuncture points should be selected in accordance with Chinese medicine principles and diagnosis. An acupuncture and moxibustion prescription is usually composed of main points for treating the cause or root of the disease, and accessory points for relieving the symptoms.

One common method for choosing acupuncture points is selecting nearby points. This means selecting points in the local area that is adjacent to the diseased place. For example, the acupuncture point Jingming (BL 1) is close to the eyes and can be selected for eye diseases, and the point Tinggong (SI 19) is close to the ears and can be chosen for ear diseases. Another example is the point Zhongwan (CV 12) on the stomach area, and it can be used for gastric diseases.

Another method is the selection of distant points. This refers to the selection of acupuncture points located far from the sick area, usually below the elbows and knees, or near the end of the limbs. For example, the acupuncture point Zusanli (ST 36) on the legs can be used for gastric and abdominal disorders. The acupuncture point Hegu (LI 4) on the hands can be chosen for facial disorders. Another example is the acupuncture point Neiguan (PC 6), which is on the arms, and can be selected for chest diseases. Clinically, selection of nearby points can be combined together with distant points to enhance the therapeutic effect.

Sometimes when pains or diseases occur on one side of the body, the corresponding points of related meridians or channels, usually on the other side which is still healthy, can be chosen. For example, the acupuncture point Quchi (LI 11) on the right elbow can be used for pains on the left arm.

Some acupuncture points are especially effective for certain symptoms. This feature can also be used as a principle for choosing the correct points. Such points are not restricted to the local area. For example, the point Dazhui (GV 14) is usually selected for fever, and Zhigou (TE 6) is a commonly used point for constipation.

Many ancient Chinese medicine classics, such as The Jade Dragon Verse of Using Acupuncture, recorded valuable experience for selecting the most effective points for different diseases. These precious ancient instructions on point selection are still very useful in today’s clinic, as they have been proven by hundreds of years of practice.